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The Roanoke Voyages 1584-1590 Volume 2 edited by David Beers Quinn
P 712 - February 4, 1593 - letter from John White to Richard Hakluyt 

[RJE - English modernized but words not changed.]
Found by Roberta Estes

 

To the worshipful and my very friend Master Richard Hakluyt, much happiness in the Lord.

Sir, as well for the satisfying of your earnest request, as the performance of my promise made unto you at my last being with you in England, I have sent you (although in a homely style, especially for the contentation of a delicate ear) the true discourse of my last voyage into the West Indies, and parts of America called Virginia, taken in hand about the end of February in the year of our redemption 1590. And what events happened to us in this our journey, you shall plainely perceive by the sequel of my discourse. There were at the time aforesaid three ships absolutely determined to go for the West Indies, at the special charges of Master John Wattes of London marchant. But when they were fully furnished, and in readiness to make their departure, a general stay was commanded of all ships throughout England. Which so soone as I heard, I presently (as I thought it most requisite) acquainted Sir Walter Raleigh therewith, desiring him that as I had sundry times afore been chargeable and troublesome into him, for the supplies and releifes of the planters in Virginia: so likewise, that by his endeavor it would please him at that instant to procure license for those three ships to proceed on with their determined voyage, that thereby the people in Virginia (if it were Gods pleasure) might speedily be comforted and relieved without further charges unto thim. Whereupon he by his good meanes obtained license of the Queenes Majestie and order to be taken, that the owner of the 3 ships should be bound unto Sir Walter Ralegh or his assignes, in 3000 pounds, that those 3 ships in consideration of their releasement should take in and transport a convenient number of passengers with their furnitures and necessaries to be landed in Virginia. Nevertheless that order was not observed, neither was the bond taken according to the intention aforesaid. Bur rather in contempt of the aforesaid order, I was by the owner and commanders of the ships denied to have any passengers or anything else transported in any of the said ships, saving only myselfe and my chest; no not so much as a boy to attend upon me, although I made great sute and earnest intreaty as well to the chief commanders, as to the owner of the said ships. Which cross and unkind dealing, although it very much discontented me, notwithstanding the scarcity of time was such, that I could have no opportunity to go unto Sir Walter Ralegh with complaint, for the ships being then all in readinesse to go to sea, would have been departed before I could have made my return. Thus both Governors, Masters and sailers, regarding very smally the good of their countreymen in Virginia, determined nothing less than to touch at those places, but wholly disposed themselves to seek after purchase and spoiles, spending so much time therein that summer was spent before we arrived at Virginia. And when we were come thither, the season was so unfit and weather so foul, that we were constrained of force to forsake that coast, having not seen any of our planters, with loss of one of our ship-boates, and 7 of our chiefest men: and also with loss of 3 of our anchors and cables, and most of our caskes with fresh water left on shore, not possible to be had on board. Which evils and unfortunate events (as well to their own loss as to the hinderance of the planters in Virginia) had not chanced, if the order set down by Sir Walter Ralegh had been observed, or if my daily and continual petitions for the performance of the same might have taken any place. Thus may you plainely perceive the success of my fifth and last voyage to Virginia, which was no less unfortunately ended then forwardly begun, and as luckless to many, as sinister to myself. But I would to God it had been as prosperous to all, as noysome to the planters; and as joyful to me, as discomfortable to them. Yet seeing it is not my first crossed voyage, I remain contented. And wanting my wishes, I leave off from prosecuting that whereunto I would to God my wealth were answerable to my will. Thus committing the relief of my discomfortable company the planters in Virginia, to the merciful help of the Almighty, whom I most humbly beseech to help and comfort them, according to his most holy will and their good desire, I take my leave from my house at Newtowne in Kylmore, the 4th of February, 1593.

Your most welwishing friend, John White

 


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